The South Sydney Rabbitohs coach copped a $20,000 fine and two week ban after he breached the NRL’s strict COVID-19 biosecurity protocols by having lunch with his partner Dale Cage at a popular Italian restaurant in Sydney on Wednesday.
Bennett has since come under fire from critics, including his own son-in-law and former NRL star turned Fox Sports commentator Ben Ikin, who labelled the breach ‘arrogant and irresponsible’.
It’s understood Ikin and his family became estranged from Bennett after the NRL supercoach left his wife of 42 years to be with Cage in 2016.
Cage, 54, leapt to the defence of her partner of four years on Saturday with a brutal swipe at her partner’s son-in-law.
Dale Cage (right) has defended her partner Wayne Bennett after he was penalised by the NRL for breaching its biosecurity protocols. The couple are pictured in Mudgee in March
‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones #just saying. The truth will hurt some people #staytuned #benikin,’ she posted on Instagram.
The glamorous blonde uploaded a cryptic post hours earlier.
‘The self-righteous scream judgement against other to hide the skeletons dancing in their own closets,’ the post read.
On Thursday, Bennett was upfront with reporters about his lunch date at Grappa in Leichhardt in Sydney’s inner west, despite being part of the NRL’s Project Apollo committee that devised the biosecurity protocols,
‘I went for lunch yesterday at Grappa yesterday, I did. I didn’t think it was a breach… If I knew it was a breach I wouldn’t have done it,’ Bennett said.
‘I went with my partner who I live with, had some lunch and that was it. I go shopping, I go different places to get meals at times, it was just me and my partner who I live together with, she was with me and I went somewhere to get something to eat at lunchtime.’
Dale Cage (pictured) lashed out at Bennett’s harshest critic on Instagram on Saturday
Dale Cage took aim at her partner’s son-in-law, NRL commentator Ben Ikin on Saturday
Bennett said he would accept any sanctions handed down.
‘If that’s what happens, that’s their call. The rules have changed that many times about what we can do and can’t do,’ he said.
‘The protocols are changing all the time. At times I have been out when I thought it was right. I still thought it was right yesterday.’
Later that night, Ikin, who’s married to Bennett’s daughter Elizabeth didn’t accept Bennett’s explanation.
‘I think it was so irresponsible, if anyone you think was going to set the right example for an entire code it would be the game’s most experienced coach,’ he said on Fox Sports.
‘It felt a bit arrogant to me, he’d made the mistake, and should have just fessed up to struggling with living in the bubble and saying that he just sort of broke out of it.
‘Because there is no way known, based on the phone calls that I have made today, that there is not a single NRL employee, player, coach, whoever, that is inside the bubble now and does not know those rules.’
Former NRL star turned Fox Sports commentator Ben Ikin (pictured) labelled his father-in-law’s actions as arrogant and irresponsible
Ikin wasn’t the only Queensland Origin great to slam Bennett over the breach.
‘How is that possible? How can the most experienced coach in the competition not be aware of it?’ Billy Moore told Mark and Caroline on 92.7 Mix FM.
‘Wayne Bennett went on the attack saying, ‘I’m the victim here. The rules have changed, I didn’t know the rules had changed’.
‘I couldn’t believe the arrogance that came through from Wayne Bennett … almost like, ‘The rules don’t apply to me’.
‘We saw the real character of Wayne Bennett, which is disappointing.’
In 2016, Bennett, 70, left his wife of 42 years and their two adult disabled children to be mother-of three Cage, 16 years his junior.
Dale Cage, 54, and NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett, 70, have been together for four years
The pair met during Bennett’s coaching stint at the Newcastle Knights.
At the time, Bennett admitted he was no longer living in the family home and hadn’t for ‘some time’.
Ms Cage left her partner of more than 20 years, who is also the father of her children, and moved to Queensland to be with Bennett, who was coaching the Brisbane Broncos at the time.
Bennett and Cage were first pictured publicly together in March 2017.
Cage often posts photos with her notoriously private partner on Instagram, most recently at a Mudgee race meet in March.
Mother-of-three Dale Cage (pictured) often posts of her partner on Instagram